Home > Articles > Kitty Genovese ~ Bystander Effect

Kitty Genovese ~ Bystander Effect

Bystander effect is one of the most famous psychology effect that explain why people sometimes, in some certain situation, can become so ‘rude’. This effect is a social phenomenon in which the presence of other people reduces our helping behavior.

The most famous case, and also the one that driven psychologists to figure out this kinda phenomenon, is the case of Kitty Genovese – a 28 years old Model. She was attacked, sexually assaulted (lasted in thirty five minutes), and finally being murdered on March 13th, 1964,  in the Kew Gardens neighborhood of Queens, New York.

Well, the case of Kitty Genovese might seems very usual in this era. There are a lot of people were attacked, sexually assaulted, and murdered nowadays. But there are something different from the Genovese’s case. 38 Witnesses were reported either saw or heard the the attack of Kitty Genovese, but none of them did something to help the lady.

Why all of them did nothing to help the victim? Psychologists John Darley and Bibb Latané (1970) carried out some experiments and suggested that being in the presence of other people influences our perception of the need for help and our assuming responsibility for helping.

In the presence of other people, one might think that “I don’t need to do the helping. I’m sure that the other one will do that.” and Unfortunately, the other people were also think the same. Finally, in the case of Kitty Genovese, all the witnesses with the same perception that ‘I am sure that the other will do the helping’ did nothing at all to save the lady.

“No one looks worried, so there must not be a problem” is also one of the social perception that will guide us to the Bystander Effect.


Further Readings :

Being a Good Neighbor

Homicide Squad

Categories: Articles
  1. May 18, 2011 at 6:17 pm

    Good Information, keep up to date

  2. August 28, 2011 at 5:39 pm

    If you like reading, I should recommend you “Blink” by Malcolm Gladwell. It has a good point of view of analyzing the case of Genovese

  3. Muhammed
    April 1, 2012 at 12:48 am

    I like research psychology can
    you help me.?

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